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WGA: 28 Writers Quit During Strike

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WGA: 28 Writers Quit During Strike

WGA leaders on both coasts sent out a joint letter to its membership revealing the names of 28 members who resigned from the union during the 100-day strike.

"In the face of enormous personal and financial hardship on the part of many, you sacrificed in the knowledge that your refusal to work would reap benefits not only for yourselves but countless others in the creative community, now and in the future," WGAW president Patric Verrone and his WGAE counterpart, Michael Winship, said in a joint statement Friday. "Yet among the many there were a puny few who chose to do otherwise, who consciously and selfishly decided to place their own narrow interests over the greater good."

The 28 writers elected to file for financial core status, a government protection that allowed writers to cross the picket lines. Under fi-core, they resigned from the union but still pay dues; the guild can't fine them for returning to work and must continue to rep them in bargaining.

But Verrone and Winship sharply criticized the decision by those writers, writing that they "must be held at arm's length by the rest of us and judged accountable for what they are -- strikebreakers whose actions placed everything for which we fought so hard at risk."

A link was included in the letter to the WGAW Web site's list of the 21 West Coast fi-core writers, while the WGA East chose to make their list of seven writers accessible only to members through their login. The majority of the 28 have worked on daytime soap operas, including "The Bold and the Beautiful," "Days of Our Lives" and "All My Children."

Listed for the WGAW were Maria Arena, Marlene Poulter Clark, John F. Cosgrove, Paula F. Cwikly, Clem Egan, Barbara J. Esensten, Jeanne M. Grunwell, Dena Higley, Mark Christopher Higley, Meg Kelly, Michelle Poteet Lisanti, Terry Meurer, Shawn Morrison, James E. Reilly, John Ridley, Hogan Sheffer, John F. Smith, Darrel R. Thomas Jr., Gary Tomlin, Janeen A. Vogelaar and Garin Wolf.

The WGAE members included Pricilla Kay Alden, James Harmon Brown, Michael Conforti, Victor Gialanella, Josh Griffith, Frances Myers and Pete T. Rich.

The list is the most comprehensive to come out about those who chose fi-core since the strike. During the walkout, only a few names trickled out, including Harmon Brown and Esensten, while some made it publicly known that they chose to return to work, like Ridley.

Ridley ("Undercover Brother") wrote an op/ed piece in the Los Angeles Times in early January explaining his reasons. During the strike, he was outspoken about how the negotiations with the producers were being approached and claimed in his op-ed piece that at one membership meeting in December, he was told he wasn't welcome because of his views.

"After 15 years of being told to shut up, sit down and be part of the groupthink, I decided I did not belong in the guild," he wrote. "The guild has a way to option out. I took the out."

Ridley, through his reps, declined comment on the releasing of the fi-core list. Reps for some listed could not be reached for comment.

As result of their actions, the 28 writers no longer can vote in the guild's elections, run for guild office, attend meetings and other events or participate in the WGA Awards.

This is not the only post-strike action the WGA has taken since inking a deal with the majors in February. The WGAE has filed arbitration complaints against ABC and Corday Prods. for violating terms of strike-termination agreement for hiring replacement writers for "All My Children" and "Days of Our Lives," respectively. As a result, nine WGAE scribes were barred from returning to those jobs after the strike ended. Those cases are pending.

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Leslie Simmons writes for The Hollywood Reporter.

For more news from The Hollywood Reporter, click here.

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